WEDC: Wisconsin Main Street Day: City of Wisconsin Rapids receives $150,000 state grant to support redevelopment of former downtown mall

WEDC grant to provide assistance for environmental testing of site,
which is being developed into shared facility for YMCA, Boys & Girls Club

WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) today announced it has awarded Wisconsin Rapids a $150,000 grant to support plans to convert part of a vacant downtown mall into a new facility shared by the local YMCA and Boys & Girls Club.

The Site Assessment Grant will be used to help offset the costs of testing the former Rapids Mall to verify the presence of any hazardous materials. The matching grant will help fund the sampling and testing of soil and groundwater, testing for asbestos, and partial demolition of the mall, which closed earlier this year.

“WEDC is pleased to provide support for this important component of this major redevelopment project,” said WEDC Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer Tricia Braun, who made the announcement at the mall as part of Wisconsin Main Street Day on Tuesday. “This redevelopment will provide a new collaborative facility for two great community organizations while at the same time enhancing Wisconsin Rapids’ downtown.”

The South Wood County YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club are partnering to establish a 90,000-square-foot facility on the site. The $27.5 million facility will transform much of the vacant downtown mall and adjacent parcels into a vibrant, accessible facility that will be convenient to several nearby neighborhoods.

Plans call for removing large portions of the existing mall, renovating the remaining portions of mall and constructing new sections of the facility. Numerous environmental activities must take place before construction can begin, including inspecting the property for asbestos and lead-based paint.

The planned community center is designed to collaboratively accommodate the program needs of both organizations and will include a teen center, computer labs, a learning center and study lounge, gathering and social areas, a music and drama room, an arts classroom, an aquatics center, a day care center for up to 60 children, and other amenities. The project is receiving widespread support from residents and the business community, with nearly $22 million raised so far.

“With all our recent initiatives and the momentum we have generated toward reinvigorating our downtown and riverfront districts, we are excited to receive this affirmation of our efforts and plans from the State of Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin Rapids Zach Mayor Vruwink. “This event draws attention to our vision of transforming Wisconsin Rapids into an ideal community in which to live, work and play.”

Tuesday’s announcement came as Braun joined Lt. Governor Kleefisch, WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark R. Hogan, and WEDC Vice President of Business and Community Development Barb LaMue in visiting eight communities as part of the second annual Wisconsin Main Street Day. Main Street Day celebrates the accomplishments of Wisconsin’s downtowns,and highlights the success of the Wisconsin Main Street and Connect Communities Programs, which provide technical support and guidance to downtown groups. Wisconsin Rapids has been a member of the Connect Communities Program since 2015.

In addition to Wisconsin Rapids, the Wisconsin Main Street Day tour included the following communities: Ashland (Ashland County); Hillsboro (Vernon County); Little Chute (Outagamie County); Mayville (Dodge County); Menomonee Falls (Waukesha County); Platteville (Grant County); and Racine (Racine County).

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